Condenser

Subjects:

  • General
  • State of aggregate
  • Operation of the condenser
  • Cooling fans

General:
The condenser looks a bit the same as the radiator and is mounted at the front of the car (in front of the radiator). Often the condenser is a lot smaller than the radiator. In the image below, the top left is the entrance, and the bottom right is the refrigerant exit. It filter / dryer element can be located next to or on the condenser.

State of Aggregation:
In the condenser, vapor is converted into liquid by means of temperature reduction. The name 'condenser' already betrays its function. The (warm) vapor cools down in the condenser. It condenses. This means that the vapor takes on a solid form and turns into liquid.

A short summary:

  • Supercooled liquid: liquid with a temperature lower than the boiling temperature
  • Boiling temperature / Condensing temperature: the temperature at which the liquid changes from vapor to liquid, or vice versa
  • Saturated Vapor: Both vapor and liquid present, not yet fully condensed/evaporated.
  • Superheated vapor: vapor with a temperature higher than the boiling temperature, no liquid is left.

An extensive explanation with examples is treated in the chapter state of aggregation.

Operation of the condenser:
The condenser has a similar function to the radiator of the car, which lowers the temperature of the coolant. Instead of refrigerant, refrigerant flows through the condenser. The air that flows through the condenser (the wind, or the air that is blown through it by the fan) cools the refrigerant. The warm temperature of the refrigerant flowing through the curved tubes / fins of the condenser is transferred to the wind / air flowing past the fins.

The refrigerant is pumped by the compressor (as superheated vapour) to the condenser. The refrigerant of the refrigerant that flows into the condenser has a temperature of about 65 degrees with a pressure of around 15 bar. At the exit of the condenser, the temperature of the refrigerant is condensed and reduced by 10 degrees to about 55 degrees Celsius. The pressure of the refrigerant remains the same.
After the condensation of the refrigerant, it is cooled to saturated vapour. Now both vapor and liquid are present. Further in the system, the refrigerant cools further, so that only supercooled liquid remains. It is then completely in liquid form.

Cooling fans:
It differs per brand and version whether one or two fans are present. In one case, one fan takes on the task of both radiator and condenser fans, and in other cases one vent is for engine cooling and a separate (often smaller) vent for air conditioning (see picture).

When the outside air temperature is too high, or when the car is standing still for a long time and therefore no wind can flow through the condenser, the cooling fans provide an airflow through the condenser. In this way, the refrigerant can still be cooled down enough to be able to change from vapor to a solid liquid in the condenser (which is of great importance for the operation of the system).

Click here to go to the Airco (main) page, where the operation of the whole system with the parts is described.

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